Now also available as
The issue of tortious liability for harm caused by climate change has risen to
some prominence in recent legal literature. However, except for a few U.S.
cases, litigation in this area remains dormant in most jurisdictions. Now, in
anticipation of the likelihood – and desirability – of such litigation, this
ground-breaking study examines the extent to which a claim brought by a
private, public, or quasi-public claimant against a private defendant (such as
a producer of fossil fuels or major emitter of greenhouse gases) alleging
climate change–related damage, and based on one or more causes of action under
the English law of torts, can be pursued in the English Courts. Focusing on
the circumstances and the prerequisites that must be met in order to construct
a potentially successful case, the author addresses the following questions:
• On the basis of a high-level review of the relevant scientific literature,
what impacts is climate change expected to have on the human and natural
• What goals would be served by climate change litigation?
• Under what circumstances would the English Courts accept jurisdiction in
relation to a climate change claim?
• To what extent can existing tort law precedents – e.g., negligence, product
liability, public nuisance – be used in climate change–related claims?
• To what extent does the existence of a regulatory framework limit or
extinguish the liability of the defendants if they can show full compliance
with the provisions of the relevant regulations?
• How would the current law of causation need to develop in order to overcome
the difficulties inherent in ascribing certain forms of damage to climate
The analysis considers each available cause of action in turn, setting out the
elements that would have to be established, as well as highlighting the
obstacles that would need to be overcome if the validity of the claim was to
be upheld. The defences that would be available to the defendants are also
examined, and their effectiveness at invalidating a claim is tested. In
addition, the study assesses the remedies that could be claimed in law and
equity for climate change–related damage. The analysis also incorporates
examination of case law from tobacco, asbestosis, handguns, and other relevant
types of litigation – including climate-based litigation cases in the U.S. –
where comparable issues of multiple tortfeasors, proportional liability,
materiality thresholds, increase in risk, and other complexities of causation
have already been considered at some length. By concentrating on tortious
liability, the author clearly shows that litigation can become a significant
means of compensating climate change victims, encouraging regulatory change,
and facilitating a socioeconomic transition away from the fossil fuel economy.
Although the book will be of particular interest to lawyers in multinational
corporations and certain non-governmental organizations, the book’s relevance
to a much broader spectrum of jurists, academics, and policymakers is